When Miguel Cabrera smashed a solo shot to right center field against the Tampa Bay Rays recently, the fact that Cabrera's ball landed in The Rays Touch Tank was an afterthought for most fans.
The Touch Tank is an area at Tropicana Field where fans can feed and pet cownose rays. And even though Cabrera's ball landed in the tank, no rays were harmed in the making of his home run.
Still, the long ball seems to have angered the animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). In a letter to Tampa Bay Senior Vice President John P. Higgins, PETA's Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement, Delcianna Winders, urges the team to close the tank:
"Because rays require such specific conditions in order to live safely and comfortably, a "touch tank" is not anything to be proud of: 41 of 43 rays died in the Calgary Zoo's touch tank, and 18 of 19 died at California's Fresno Chaffee Zoo. Nineteen of 34 rays died in the Brookfield Zoo, and 11 of 18 died in the Smithsonian Institution's National Zoological Park. Please do not let the Rays sentence their namesake to the same fate."
Cabrera's ball is just the second in eight years to hit the tank, but that's not what's bugging PETA. It's the condition of the rays and how the tank is maintained that seems to be bothering the organization. In a statement released to the media, Winders slammed the Rays for their handling of the animals.
“The rays held captive at Tropicana Field not only were traumatically taken from their vast home waters but also are subject to harassment, loud crowds, and even baseballs capable of seriously injuring them. When it comes to compassion, the Rays are batting .000.”
No response yet from the Rays.